AFI Top Ten

So, AFI divided up the world of movies into ten categories, and picked the ten best movies in each category.

Yeah, who cares, right? This sorta thing is fun if to dismantle. The problem is that the categories are far too broad. Leading Lord of the Rings to be lumped in with Miracle on 34th Street. ‘cause, you know, they’re both fantasy.

No horror genre, with three appearances by horrors in the sci-fi category, no thriller or suspense category, no musicals, romantic comedy only (no screwball, farce, etc.), no superhero category (though that’d be a gimme for movies made in the past 10 years, which no critic wants to be seen lauding), no action, etc. etc. etc.

Well, it’s all in fun, right? It would be interesting to see someone put some real work into studying genres and coming up with some insights. Things you might not know about famous movies:

  • Hitch regarded Psycho as a comedy.
  • Independence Day, while looking like a sci-fi action thriller, really follows the a lot of the tropes of the ’70s disaster movie, and deliberately so. (This is also true of Mars Attacks!)
  • Joe Bob Briggs argues convincingly that Die Hard borrows heavily from the horror genre.
  • Sci-fi can be a very non-descriptive label: Alien is structurally really a slasher flick, Outland is very transparently High Noon, Blade Runner is really a noir detective story, Star Wars is a samuari picture (The Hidden Fortress, specifically), etc.

Just off the top of my head.

Classification can actually be pretty enlightening by making you think about genre conventions and how clever filmmakers can work against your expectations by showing you the trappings for one thing and having a different mechanic going on underneath.

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